We are shaped by our upbringing and our lived experiences. It’s a fact. Yes, our parents/caregivers and siblings are key influences on us, but we also have had a host of other experiences with people and situations that shape who we are, how we relate to others, and how we move through life. What were you told or how were you related to growing up or in adulthood that has stuck with you? Does it make you feel good? Does it make you
upset? Are you able to depersonalize the messages that aren’t so nice? Oftentimes the messaging we have received reflects on the person who was delivering that message rather than us. But it’s very hard to believe that, or feel that. Intellectually we may know that “It’s you, not me”, but it’s easy to lose sight of. What often happens is that we take in those messages (internalize), make them our own (believe them), and project them (externalize). What does this mean? It means that we tend to expect others to react and respond to us as others have in our lives. So when those expectations reactions and responses are negative/critical, we may limit how we interact, or with whom we interact as a method of self-protection. For example, if you have been criticized often and told that you are not very smart, you are likely not to volunteer your views or opinions to others, expecting that they are going to think you are not very smart. So, you close yourself off. In essence what is happening is you may be defending against the rejection that you expect. And in turn, you have now limited your participation in that moment, but maybe in life as well. We all learn to self-protect. What is your method of self-protection? Avoidance is a common defense. In my previous blog, you can see how I have personally self-protected. While avoidance is protective, it doesn’t serve us well and limits our breadth of experiences and satisfaction, and ability to feel good!
So how can you move past this?
You may also have been told – or have the expectation of yourself - to simply move on and just stop being upset by our experiences. “Just stop feeling that way”. This is unfair. We are emotionally driven, and we don’t operate like this. We must learn how to move past the pain that can arise from other people’s perceptions. So rather than getting distraught over hurtful comments or allowing others to control how you feel about yourself, take charge! You will shine in your personal relationships and your work.
People are everywhere, we can’t avoid them.